More Calendar — November
Dearborn, November 18–22
The Henry Ford looks back in history to the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Dedicated lectures and a display featuring the limousine the president rode in reflect on that day 50 years ago (800/835-5237; thehenryford.org).
Silver Bells in the City
Lansing, November 22
Welcome the holiday season at the state capitol with a parade of electric lights, fireworks above the capitol dome and the lighting of Michigan’s official state Christmas tree. Stop by Silver Bells Village, a market of goods and handicrafts in downtown Lansing, which features more than 50 different cultural events to entertain shoppers (517/487-3322; silverbellsinthecity.org).
America’s Thanksgiving Parade
Detroit, November 28
America’s second largest Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off at 9:10 a.m. and features more than 2,000 clowns, 60 floats and 150 brightly colored papier-mâché heads. Some of these Italian-made masks date back to the ‘40s and are on display year-round at Big Head Corps. Runners don costumes for the pre-parade races: Turkey Trot (10K), Stuffing Strut (5K) and Mashed Potato Mile beginning at 7:30 a.m. The parade is free, but special grandstand seating is available starting at $35 (313/923-7400; theparade.org).
North Pole Express
Owosso, November 29–December 1; December 6–8; December 14, 15, 21 and 22
Climb aboard this historic diesel engine train for a four-hour journey through snowy scenery while sipping on steaming mugs of hot chocolate. The locomotive carries passengers to Saginaw County Fairgrounds to see Santa’s Village at North Pole USA. Visitors enjoy live entertainment, carnival rides, holiday crafts and meeting Santa Claus (989/725-9464; michigansteamtrain.com/north-pole-express).
Christmas at Crossroads Holiday Magic
Flint, November 29–December 29 (select days and weekends)
Take a ride on the Huckleberry Railroad to a historic village where costumed characters create vintage crafts and the 154-year-old Horton-Colwell Opera house hosts Christmas concerts. Tickets sell quickly; purchase in advance (810/736-7100; geneseecountyparks.org/pages/christmas).
More Calendar — December
Singing Christmas Tree
Muskegon, November—December 5–7
The Mona Shores High School choir performs holiday classics atop a 67-foot tall Christmas tree in the Frauenthal Theater. A 50-piece orchestra accompanies the singers, playing a range of music, including African folk songs and traditional Christmas carols (231/727-8001; blogs.monashores.net/lawtons).
Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend
Manistee, December 5–8
Christmas reverts to the Victorian Era as horse-drawn sleighs glide through the streets and carolers sport traditional attire. Belgian draft horses pull a 30-foot Christmas tree, leading to the official tree lighting downtown. Throughout the weekend, compete in a gingerbread house contest, watch the festival of trees and take a tour of the Babcock House, a grand Victorian mansion (231/398-9355; visitmanisteecounty.com/specialevents/sleighbell).
Light Up the Bluff and Live Mannequins
St. Joseph, December 6–7
Volunteers reenact Christmas scenes in window displays throughout more than 30 businesses downtown. The St. Joseph High School Choir sings carols as the mayor lights the tree and electric decorations in Lake Bluff Park reflect off Lake Michigan. Families can enjoy shopping, visits with Santa and carousel rides throughout the night (269/983-5541; www.stjoetoday.com).
Christmas in Ida
A Christmas-themed petting zoo, 130 floats in the parade of lights, and a hot dog lunch with Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves make this festival perfect for families. The festival originated as an indoor craft show, which has expanded to more than 200 vendors. Live music, ice sculpting and a new merchandise auction add interest for adults (734/269-6017; www.christmasinida.com).
More Calendar — January
North American International Auto Show
Detroit, January 15–26
Cruise into Motor City where dealers display more than 500 models of the world’s most innovate cars and introduce more than 50 prototypes hot off the assembly line. Industry leaders host lectures on topics like vehicle manufacturing and eco-friendly energy. Tickets are limited, and can be bought online, in advance or at the door (248/643-0250; www.naias.com).
Tip-Up Town USA
Houghton Lake, Houghton Lake, January 17–19, 24–26
Get hooked on ice fishing, or mine for buried treasure in the medallion hunt. Amateur artisans try their hands at ice sculpting and kids slither down the ice slide. An assortment of other events like softball-on-ice and snowmobile races occur throughout the weekend, finishing with a vibrant fireworks display. Badges cost $6 and are required for site entry and all events (989/366-5644; houghtonlakechamber.net/tipuptown.php).
Frankenmuth, January 22–27
Artists chisel monstrous figures out of blocks of ice and mold heaps of snow into intricate sculptures for high school, collegiate, state and national competitions—vote for the best. Want to escape the cold? Take a break in the warming tent for live entertainment, food and Michigan’s Best Apple Pie Recipe contest (800/863-7999; www.zehnders.com).
International 500 Snowmobile Race
Sault Ste. Marie, January 27–February 1
Professional snowmobilers whiz around a 1-mile track in the world’s largest snowmobile race, clocking speeds upward of 100 mph. Fans can meet racers in between time trials and the 500-lap final. A beauty pageant, kiddy race and vintage sled show entertain guests throughout the weekend (906/235-4893; www.i-500.com).
North American Snow Festival
Cadillac, January 30–February 1
The weekend opens with local restaurants battling in a chili cook off. A menagerie of events—a polar dip, fun run, snowmobile races, a fishing contest and hot dog eating contest—provide fun for the whole family. Take a break from the fast-paced activities to see the antique snowmobile show or watch lit snowmobiles parade around Lake Cadillac Friday night. The $5 buttons are entered in a raffle drawing for cash prizes of up to $3,000 (231/775-0657; www.cadillacmichigan.com).
More Calendar — February
White Pine Stampede
Mancelona, February 1
Cross-country skiers from across the Midwest compete in 40, 20 and 10-kilometer races spanning from Mancelona to Bellaire, finishing at Shanty Creek Resort. All proceeds go to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation; the race has raised more than $90,000 over the past 37 years (231/587-8812; whitepinestampede.org).
Houghton, February 5–8
Walking across Michigan Technological University’s campus is like wandering through a gigantic snow diorama. During an all-night competition, students carve larger-than-life sculptures, which rise from mountains of snow. Male students protest razors with a two-month long beard competition, while others battle in skating relay races, ice bowling or broomball. Student organizations create skits for the “Stage Revue,” scored partly by judges and partly by the audience. Community members are encouraged to come watch the festivities (906/487-2818; www.mtu.edu/carnival).
Pine Mountain Continental Cup Ski Jumping Tournament
Iron Mountain, February 7–9
See world-renowned ski jumpers soar off the American record-holding jump. More than 20,000 fans set up tailgating camps at the bottom of the hill to enjoy brats, beers and good company during the tournament. Records in each class have been set on this jump, including the U.S. record of 459 ft., which still stands (800/236-2447; www.kiwanisskiclub.com).
The UP 200 and Midnight Run Races
Marquette, February 21–24
Cheer on mushers and their 12 sled dogs as they travel round-trip from Marquette to Grand Marais, Michigan. Top finishers qualify for the Iditarod. Others take shorter routes with the Midnight Run Friday and the Jack Pine 30 on Saturday. Fans can gather at checkpoints across the 240-mile stretch to watch the race (906-228-3072; up200.org).
For More Information, contact:
Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau (231/775-0657 or 800/225-2537; cadillacmichigan.com).
Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (313/202-1800 or 800/338-7648; visitdetroit.com).
Flint-Genesee County Convention and Visitors Bureau (810/232-8900 or 800/25FLINT; flint.travel).
Frankenmuth Convention & Visitors Bureau (989/652-6106 or 800/386-8696; frankenmuth.org).
Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau (517/487-0077 or 888/252-6746; lansing.org).
Houghton Lake Area Tourism and Convention Bureau (800/676-5330 or 989/366-8474; visithoughtonlake.com).
Keweenaw Convention & Visitors Bureau (906/337-4579 or 800/338-7982; keweenaw.info).
Manistee County Convention & Visitors Bureau (231/398-9355 or 877/626-4783; visitmanistee.com).
Marquette Country Convention & Visitor Bureau (906/228-7749 or 800/544-4321; travelmarquettemichigan.com).
Monroe County Convention & Tourism Bureau (800/252-3011; monroeinfo.com).
Muskegon County Convention & Visitors Bureau (800/250-9283 or 231/724-3100; visitmuskegon.org).
Porcupine Mountains Ontonagon Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (906/884-2047; porcupinemountains.com).
Sault Ste. Marie Convention & Visitors Bureau (906/632-3366 or 800/647-2858; saultstemarie.com).
Shiawassee County Convention & Visitors Bureau (989/723-1199; shiawassee.org).
Silver Lake Sand Dunes-Hart Visitors Bureau (213/873-3982 or 800/870-9786; thinkdunes.com).
Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau (231/947-1120 or 800/872-8377; traversecity.com).